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US storms kill at least 21 across 4 states on Memorial Day weekend

US storms


Thunderstorms that spawned tornadoes swept through the Southern Plains and the Ozark Mountains, resulting in the deaths of at least 21 people across four U.S. states as of Monday afternoon and causing extensive damage to hundreds of buildings. Forecasters warned of the potential for more severe weather.

Over the three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend, fatalities were reported as follows: eight in Arkansas, seven in Texas, four in Kentucky, and two in Oklahoma, according to state emergency authorities.

The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch for parts of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania until Monday evening, affecting more than 30 million people in the Northeast as storms were expected to move towards the East Coast.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency early Monday. The weather service also issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the Atlanta area and other parts of Georgia, as well as several western South Carolina counties until at least Monday afternoon.

“It was a tough night for our people,” Beshear posted on the social media platform X on Monday. Later, in a press briefing, he stated that devastating storms had impacted almost the entire state, damaging 100 state highways and roads.

In North Texas near the Oklahoma border, a powerful tornado on Saturday night resulted in at least seven deaths, including a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old, and nearly 100 injuries, Governor Greg Abbott reported during a Sunday news conference.

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced late Sunday that at least eight people had died in her state due to the storms. One Arkansan with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease passed away when a power outage cut off their oxygen supply.

President Joe Biden expressed his condolences for the lives lost during calls with Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, Governor Abbott, and Governor Sanders, according to the White House. The Federal Emergency Management Agency was on the ground conducting damage assessments with state and local officials, and Biden directed federal agencies to provide necessary support.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans were without power on Monday due to the severe weather, with more than 160,000 customers in Kentucky alone experiencing power outages, according to the PowerOutage.US tracking website. Governor Beshear mentioned that restoring power could take days in some areas.

The weather service warned of additional storms moving through the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, bringing damaging winds, large hail, more tornadoes, and heavy downpours capable of causing flash floods.

This recent bout of extreme weather followed a powerful tornado that tore through an Iowa town last week, killing four people, and additional tornadoes that touched down in Texas.

The U.S. is also preparing for a potentially “extraordinary” 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, which government forecasters have warned will begin next Saturday.

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